Reports from the White House indicate that the Trump administration is planning to rollback federal environmental protections to expedite highway and other projects.
"President Trump will sign an executive order Thursday instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current 'economic emergency,'" report Juliet Eilperin and Jeff Stein.
The reports cite four anonymous sources for the news, but a formal announcement is expected soon.
"Declaring an economic emergency allows the president to invoke a section of federal law 'where emergency circumstances make it necessary to take an action with significant environmental impact without' observing normal requirements imposed by laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act," according to Eilperin and Stein.
An email from a senior administration officials quoted in the article defends the decision by saying it would "expedite construction of highways and other projects designed for environmental, energy, transportation, natural resource, and other uses."
As noted in the article, the Trump administration's efforts to undermine federal environmental protections predate the pandemic. In August 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed changes to shorten environmental review for infrastructure projects, and in January 2020, the Trump administration proposed changes to the the National Environmental Policy Act that would remove climate change as a consideration in federally mandated environmental reviews.
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